Pitch Shifter vs Tuning?

Discussion in 'Gear & Equipment' started by Reignerrr, Oct 25, 2020.

  1. HeHasTheJazzHands

    HeHasTheJazzHands SS.org Regular

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    Honestly I was debating on trying a Variax in general. But apparently because of the way the system works (piezo transducers), palm mutes sound like absolute ass. It's all being picked up via the bridge rather than magnetic pickups, so palm mutes sound very unnatural.

    First heard of the issue here, and since then I can't un-hear it.



    Also very, very apparent here.

     
  2. TheShyGuitarist

    TheShyGuitarist SS.org Regular

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    I use the digitech pitch emulation from BIAS FX 2, and it does a pretty good job for me. I can even use it for recordings with some post processing and not lose too much clarity ( i only go down by -2 or -3 at most).
    But I was wondering if anyone has any better software solutions for pitch shifting? Too difficult to use real pedals for me since i mostly use all plugins with an interface.
    And my guitar is an Epiphone les paul so tuning down is not a comfortable option for me lol.
     
  3. Voodoo Marshall

    Voodoo Marshall SS.org Regular

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    There are so many variables, one answer won't cut it. Like string gauge, scale length, etc. I think the Drop or Whammy makes a regular scale, regular string gauge guitar sound better for drop B than tuning down, which sounds pretty flabby to me. That said, the right guitar, scale length and strings usually sound better than a Drop or Whammy for drop B. My regular guitar w/ standard scale and 11-52 strings sounds great dropped to a D or C#. I've then had good luck using a Drop or Whammy bringing it down one more whole step to drop B (from a down-tuned C#) without too many digital artifacts
     
  4. Tiger1016

    Tiger1016 SS.org Regular

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    I have been through a solid number of experiments with this and have settled on pitch shifting over multiple guitars for home use purposes. It actually sounded better with my gear than my actual down tuned guitars.

    The pitch shifting algo in the Axe Fx III was greatly improved earlier this year. It tracks so fast that I no longer notice any latency, which was so bad in previous FW iterations that it was unusable. Also, the digital artifact issue was greatly improved.

    Two things to note. 1) this technology is inherently sensitive to being slightly out of tune or not having perfect intonation. My solution to this was Evertune bridges, which are a perfect solution for me now since I am no longer changing physical tunings. 2) the digital drop tuning in the Pitch block in the Axe Fx alters the tone slightly even when the tuning variation is set to a 0 pitch shift. It is slight and it gets progressively slightly noticeable as you actually drop it lower and lower, but the biggest difference is just when tuning the Pitch block on in the first place even when it is doing nothing. However, this is not as bad as it sounds. In the Axe Fx, all I need to do is a) in the pitch block, use the low cut and b) either add a little extra mids somewhere in the signal chain, or turn my tone knob up on my guitar a touch, or both.

    The most direct comparison that I did was using my USA Core PRS Custom 24 in Drop D digitally dropped to Drop B/A# (10-52 strings, HFS/VB pickups) vs. a PRS SE 277 27.7 scale baritone in Drop B (13-62 strings, also HFS/VB pickups). Aside from this being a USA vs SE comparison, it is about as close of an apples to apples as you can get unless you did a string gauge change on the Cu 24. The net result was a better, more clear, more bite, and tighter tone from the digitally dropped tuned Cu 24 when using the same amp settings for both guitars. The the playability with the shorter scale and normal string gauges made the digital drop tuning option even more favorable. Finally, being able to get rid of all of my alternate, downtuning 6 strings was icing on the cake.

    The relatively lighter string gauges coupled with a healthy amount of string tension in the Drop D setup seemed to offset the tone change from the Pitch block and still resulted in a more preferable tone than the baritone that was actually setup in the proper tuning. Same results when using a PRS SE Mike Mushok, which was even worse than the SE 277 and the same went for the PRS SE Clint Lowrey.

    The final test for me was when I got my Kiesel Aries A6E w/ Evertune. It was setup in Drop C by the original owner and seller with 11-56 gauge strings. I tested it out and did a few recordings it as is, then changed to 10-52 strings in Drop D and using the Pitch block to get to Drop C then re-tested and re-recorded. The digital drop option wound up having a bit more crispness and clarity. However, I think the Drop C strings were probably kind of dead, so that could explain most of the difference.

    This was my personal journey. I am a strictly home player due to choices to pursue a demanding career and a family. But I am an obsessive tone junky to a fault. Not a professional studio engineer though, but pretend to be at times. Except for maybe critical studio recordings, I'd say the Pitch shifting in the Axe Fx is worthy solution that could eliminate the need for extra guitars for most scenarios.
     
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  5. BouhZik

    BouhZik SS.org Regular

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    not sure about that. there is demos out there showing some flaws, specially on palm mutes and pinch armonics when you use the modeling to down tune. to me, when using the tech to down tune the guitar, palm mutes sounds like shit, and there is latency on pitch armonics.



    I'd say, get another guitar for B tuning. if you wanted a solution to tune down to B and still have good tension with 9/46 strings, IMO you are out of luck.
     
  6. Crimsonghost

    Crimsonghost SS.org Regular

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    I jammed with a guy who had a variax, and it was fine for jamming/live, but even in those situations it didn’t sound great. We weren’t even that low (drop c)
     
  7. CerealKiller

    CerealKiller SS.org Regular

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    I'm using 9-46 strings tuned in drop D, shifted down to Drop A using my FM3 for some Nile jamming. It's fine for exactly that, no noticeable latency or artifacts to my ears, but still wouldn't record with it.
     
  8. Masoo2

    Masoo2 SS.org Regular

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    I will say that the TH-U pitch shifter is probably the only digital pitch shifter I've actually liked, think it's LEAGUES ahead of the ones in Helix Native, Waves, and various free ones online

    Just throw the CT Pre either in front or after the pitch shifter to cut out some lows, boost some highs, and increase the output a bit.

    It's worked more than good enough for me in my mixes, but do note that I tend to go a bit overboard on the post processing when it comes to adding harmonic content, transient shapers, etc. it makes up for the lost transients and definition that comes with the pitch shifter. I'll take it down low, normally -3 to -5 with the base tuning being anything from Drop A 7 string down to low E-D on an 8 string (I've had great results tuning E or D down to B0, but anything below B0 hasn't worked out well).
     
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2020
  9. Elric

    Elric SS.org Regular

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    The Axe III pitch shifter is pretty great but TBH trying to down tune with one drives me insane. There's latency, tracking issues, etc. It's the nature of the process.
     
  10. Tiger1016

    Tiger1016 SS.org Regular

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    Interesting. Have you used it since the overhaul with FW 12.08 which materially removed the latency issue? The latency was apparently recorded at just 3ms, which would be impossible to detect? It was at an impossible to use ~65ms before this FW update though.

    https://forum.fractalaudio.com/threads/12-08-pitch-shifter-latency-tremendous-improvement.161429/
     
  11. dspellman

    dspellman SS.org Regular

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    In my experience, there can be differences using a pedal. Most of this has to do with the ability of the pedal to keep up at lower tunings.

    I use a Variax for six-string tuning changes, mostly because it does very well with them and partly because I can completely change the tuning to something NOT JUST DROPPED. If I'm in E standard and change the tuning to Open G, I can actually do it with a single stomp (assuming my Variax is plugged into a Helix or HD500X) and save that tuning into a user preset. Better yet, since I'm running a pair of JTV-89Fs, I can change tuning instantly AND use the Floyd Rose on the guitars.
     
  12. Jamiecrain

    Jamiecrain SS.org Regular

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    Shuriken.

    I’ve found that the lower you go, the less power you want from the pickups, otherwise you get audio “artefacts”. Someone said P90s work well, I use low power mini humbuckers and get a BEAST of a tone.
     
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  13. littlebadboy

    littlebadboy SS.org Regular

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    Thanks for the tip! I've been wondering why my baritone Ibby RGIB6 with high output TB-6 bridge doesn't sound like what I imagine it to be. However, the low output Full Shred SH-10N gives a lovely tone on those low registers.
     
  14. budda

    budda Do not criticize as this Contributor

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    I get none of those issues with mine. You set it to use input 1 right?
     
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  15. Tiger1016

    Tiger1016 SS.org Regular

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    Might depend what option you might be using. The Axe Fx III includes a low and high cut which I have found eliminates this problem in my experience. And I have tried high and mid output humbuckers along with 2 different P90 guitars. Preferred the first 2 options for tone purposes. Also, P90s for high gain metal tones (we are talking B Standard tuning and this is sevenstring, so it's implied) can be a feedback mess unless you are using headphones.

    Also, as I mentioned in my previous post, being anal about being tuned and intonated perfectly goes a long way on avoiding digital artifacts. I am overly sensitive to being out of tune, and digital drop tuning highlights this even more. I had to switch to Evertune bridges because of this, and I am happy I did.
     
  16. Elric

    Elric SS.org Regular

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    LOL. I guess it is time to revisit the III's pitch shifter for down tuning.
     
  17. Poul Winther Knudsen

    Poul Winther Knudsen SS.org Regular

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    I can't speak for the Axe FX but I sent my Drop back after ten minutes. It sounds like absolute crap IMO. Torn apart screechy signal with no dynamics and lots or artifacts. I started using NYXL strings instead which are much tighter and clearer with the added bonus of very extended life.

    I also find it super odd to play through a shifter because the vibrations from the body just feels off.
     
  18. Lax

    Lax SS.org Regular

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    I've used a morpheus droptune for years, it's still on my pedalboard.
    Depending of the preset the axefx2 pitch block is enough and sometimes better (on the highs side mostly).

    If I could afford it I guess I would have 7-8 alternate tuning guitars, but just the fact that drop B isn't near to C standard is boring enough to make me use effects :D
     

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